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by ZweiBieren Korea - June 21-25, 2006  The lawn at the Yangpyeong resort. Boathouse on lake edge.
  Pittsburgh to Seoul,
via Chicago and Tokyo.
Getting a bank account. Shopping.

small map of our trip
Wednesday, June 21
3:20AM in Pittsburgh = 4:20 PM in Tokyo (and Korea, but we're not there yet). Click the map at the right for all the maps.

So far our trip has been remarkably uneventful. We left home at 7:30. Ellyn was to drive us to the airport, but that meant she would ride and I would drive. Sigh. I'd had a good ten hours sleep, but it had taken me two days to do it. (I did succeed in putting off,yet again, dealing with my retirement funds. We're getting low on spare cash, so I'll have to cope when we get back.)

We were so early to Pittsburgh that we were put on an earlier flight. We had plenty of time in Chicago to catch the flight to Tokyo. That flight had three meals and four movies. One of them was King Kong, which I had wanted to see. Seeing a big screen epic on a distant television did not do it justice, so I did Sudoku through most of it. The others were some variation of Cute Boy Gets Cute Girl Cutely, a sports movie where boy got girl, and an Anglified version Tristan & Isolde--wherein the boy got the girl. None of them got as much attention as King Kong.

Tokyo's Narita airport is..., well it's pretty much an airport. Spanking new, but not unique. The one nice touch was a meditation garden as we left the international arrivals area.  During the last few hours of the flight I read Seth Lloyd's Programming the Universe. Provocative. For instance, he views sex as a great invention because it permits variations on the general outlines of a species.

The ever helpful CIA has lots of data on every country and shares it on its website. (Korea is https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ks.html.)

.01 mil sq km (a tad more than Indiana)
9.6 mil sq km
49 million
300 mil (Indiana: 6 million)
GDP pre capita
$20,000 (similar to Portugal & Israel)
$42,000 (2nd highest)
Oil consumption
.041 bbl/person/day
Broadband subscribers
.24 per capita (80% of households)
.14 per capita
North and South Korea are separated by a demilitarized zone (DMZ) spanning 4 km wide by 250 km long, from sea to raw-gray sea. With around a thousand land mines per square kilometer, the DMZ is now a nature sanctuary teeming with plants and wildlife (at least those too light to trigger mines).

Friday, June 23

Breakfasted downstairs in cafeteria. 5000 won. Great food, but too much of it. We will eat in the room. Walked down to the IIE office and met Jennifer Kim. She was very nice and showed us where the bank was and went to lunch with us. The bank was a hassle. KU wants to wire transfer dollars to us at Hana bank. I have yet to under stand why they cannot wiretransfer to qa bank in the states. As ist is, we and they will BOTH pay wire transfer fees.

After much todo, we got an account at Hana bank and Susan got a bank card for getting Won from ATM machines. (We can do this just as well from our existing debit card.) Then Jennifer took a look and noted that we had a Won account, and not a dollar account. Back to the bank. More flaffing about. Although with Jennifer to translate, we got through it more quickly.

Saturday, June 24

lost hat
lost card
forgot umbrella

off to get money and visit Tapgol Park where baduk players are said to congregate.
S tried to get money and it said to check account. I tried to reinsert the card and it got eaten.
Turned out to be the transit money card. Sigh. Buy a new one.

First ride on subway. Very easy to get around.

No baduk players at Tapgol Park. Nice police lady took us to a baduk club nearby. I played four games, winning one.

Sunday, June 25

The big deal today was a (fanfare...) shopping trip. Jennifer put together a bus and took us to Gyeongdong Market and HomePlus department store. Still fogged from jet lag (apparently) I forgot my hat and was ill-prepared for the open air market. Nonetheless, we had to walk four blocks through the market to get to HomePlus. We found some delicious raspberries, but most of the market wares were strange herbs for use in traditional medicines.

HomePlus turned out a bit overwhelming. There are five floors of shopping. The main floor is mostly various restaurants ranging from Baskin Robbins to sit down. This is also the location of the beauty parlor. floors above are major appliances and the second basement is a food super-market.

To begin, one invests in a shopping cart. You stick a 100 won coin into a slot and the cart unlinks from its neighbor in the holding area. Later you return the cart and reclaim the 100 won.

The money isn't hard to deal with. A won is about a tenth of a cent, so you just divide a won rate by a thousand to get dollars.  (July 7: a dollar buys 948 won (symbol: Won symbol )
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